Eid wishes in UAE
UAE public holidays have now been unified for public and private sector employees Image Credit: Gulf News

What does the UAE law say on the implementation of holidays?

As per the recent governmental announcement, the public and private sectors will now share the same guaranteed holidays for the years of 2019 and 2020.

The rationalisation behind this decision is efficiency in the UAE workforce and to strike a balance between the two sectors.

Additionally, the governmental announcement procures equality within the two sectors and aids in efficiency of calendar planning for both groups.

Is it mandatory for private companies to follow the calendar?

As per Article 74 of Federal Law Number 8 of 1980, each worker shall be entitled to leave with full pay on the following occasions:

1. New Year’s Day (Hijra): one day

2. New Year’s Day (Gregorian): one day

3. Eid Al Fitr: two days

4. Eid Al Adha: three days

5. Birthday of Prophet Mohammad [PBUH]: one day

6. Al Isra and Al Mi’raj: one day

7. National Day: one day

UAE government unified public and private sector holidays 3
UAE government unified public and private sector holidays. Image Credit: Gulf News

In light of the recent announcement, the statute may change to enforce the new congruency of holidays between the public and private sector. The result of this will be the awarding of 14 holidays in total to both sectors.

What are the repercussions if they don’t follow the calendar?

Employers who require the services of their employees on a public holiday due to operational requirements are liable to provide their employees with compensatory leave on another day — as well as to provide such employees with additional remuneration.

In this respect, we note Article 81 of the same law as above-mentioned: “Where the circumstances of the work make it necessary for a worker to work on public holidays or rest day in respect of which he is entitled to full or partial pay, he shall be granted compensatory leave in respect of such days, together with a bonus equal to 50 per cent of his remuneration.

"If he is not compensated for such days by leave, his employer shall pay him a bonus equal to 150 per cent of his basic remuneration in respect of the days worked.”

Many companies do not implement the two-hour reduction in hours during Ramadan? Is this a violation punishable by law? If yes, how can it be brought to light?

As declared by the Ministry of Labour, working hours across the UAE throughout Ramadan are reduced by two hours for both public and private sectors, whether staff members are Muslims or not.

A service articulation states that businesses are required to diminish working hours to 36 hours per week during the Islamic Holy Month.

Companies and employees are encouraged to inform the Ministry of Labour about such violations whereby employers ask employees to work after the declared working hours. Essential services will continue to run throughout the Ramadan period.

As put forward by the Dubai Health Authority, hospitals and health care institutions will operate on a shift basis to ensure the centres are continuously operable and that their employees only work the specified hours as per the law. Some institutions follow Ramadan timings, however emergency departments function 24 hours.

How can employees report a violation by the employer?

Complaints can be sent to the Ministry of Labour directly by the employees against the employer in such cases.

The Ministry investigates the facts of the claim, and companies that do not comply with the terms and conditions will be considered in the breach of the Federal Labour Law and will face penalties.

Questions answered by Dubai-based Sunil Thacker, senior partner, STA Law Firm